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Encyclopedia > Ancient Greek warfare
Modern reconstruction of a hoplite phalanx formation. In reality equipment was not uniform (with the notable exception of Sparta) since each soldier would procure his own equipment and decorate them at will.
A hoplite armed with an aspis and a doru
Hoplites marching into combat.
Agrianian Peltast. This Peltast holds three javelins, one in his throwing hand and two in his Pelte hand as additional ammunition

Ancient Greek warfare is the term used to describe to warfare of the hellenic poleis (the city-states of ancient Greece) between the hoplite revolution of the 8th century BC and the emergence of the Macedonian empire in the 4th century BC. Image File history File links Greek_Phalanx. ... Image File history File links Greek_Phalanx. ... Sparta (Doric: Spártā, Attic: Spártē) is a city in southern Greece. ... Image File history File links Greek_hoplite. ... Image File history File links Greek_hoplite. ... Image File history File links Phalanx1. ... Image File history File links Phalanx1. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (874x1440, 132 KB) Agrianian Peltast by Johnny Shumate For more information about illustrations, email shumate_j@bellsouth. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (874x1440, 132 KB) Agrianian Peltast by Johnny Shumate For more information about illustrations, email shumate_j@bellsouth. ... Agrianian Peltast. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... A polis (πόλις, pronunciation pol-is) plural: poleis (πόλεις) is a city, a city-state and also citizenship and body of citizens. ... Macedons regions and towns Macedon or Macedonia (from Greek ; see also List of traditional Greek place names) was the name of an ancient kingdom in the northern-most part of ancient Greece, bordering the kingdom of Epirus on the west and the region of Thrace to the east[1...


Ancient Greek warfare was dominated on land by the phalanx formation, a deep line formation consisting of hoplites equipped with heavy shields, spears, and swords. The hoplite gets his name from his shield, the hoplon. The phalanx's plan was basically to advance toward the enemy with each phalangite's spear stretched toward the enemy. When the phalanx got within sword range, the phalangites would draw their swords and start fighting that way. If enemy archers shot arrows at the phalanx, the phalangites would hold up their shields, so the unit was co-dependent for defense. This Greek phalanx was the ancient world's best heavy infantry, demonstrated by the Athenian victory at Marathon. 10,000 Athenian hoplites organized in a phalanx decisively defeated a much larger Persian army of about 26,000 with few losses. Another type of soldier was the peltasts which were lighter infantry than the hoplites and were equipped primarily with several javelins. The peltasts were usually used as skirmishers. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Hoplites depicted on an Attic vase dated to 510-500 BC The Hoplite was a heavy infantryman that was the central focus of warfare in Ancient Greece. ... An aspis (Ancient Greek Ασπις, IPA [aspis]) is the generic term for the word shield. ... Hunting spear and knife, from Mesa Verde National Park. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme in World War I. Infantry are soldiers who fight primarily on foot with small arms in organized military units, though they may be transported to the battlefield by horses, ships, automobiles, skis, bicycles, or other means. ... For other uses, see Athens (disambiguation). ... Combatants Athens, Plataea Persia Commanders Miltiades, Callimachus â€ , Arimnestus Datis â€ ?, Artaphernes Strength 10,000 Athenians, 1,000 Plataeans 20,000 - 60,000 a Casualties 192 Athenians killed, 11 Plataeans killed (Herodotus) 6,400 killed, 7 ships captured (Herodotus) a These are modern estimates. ... For other uses of this term see: Persia (disambiguation) The Persian Empire is the name used to refer to a number of historic dynasties that have ruled the country of Persia (Iran). ... A peltast was a type of light infantry in Ancient Greece who often served as skirmishers. ... Look up Javelin on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Javelin can refer to several things: For the spear-like object,used as a thrown weapon in ancient times see Javelin Ancient For the modern athletic discipline see Javelin throw. ... Skirmishers are infantry soldiers who are stationed ahead or to the sides of a larger body of friendly troops. ...


The ancient Greek state of Macedon perfected the phalanx with the use of the unusually long sarissa pike. In addition to the phalanx formation, the Macedonians under King Philip II began using organized cavalry units and tactical skirmisher units in battle. Another change brought by King Philip II was the creation and maintenance of a professional army. Early on, the Greek phalanges had been populated by citizen-soldier hoplites. Now, however, heavily trained professional armies became the norm, especially after Philip's son Alexander III conquered the vast Persian army and, with his death, left the several Diadochi states. It was not until the evolution from the phalanx of the more flexible Roman Legionary style of organization and equipment, combined with the more wide-spread use of light cavalry, that the Greek phalanx lost its on the battlefield. Another form of phalanx, the oblique phalanx, was used when opposing armies tried to flank the phalanx, or attack the vulnerable sides. To defend against flanking, the right and center parts of the phalanx would merge with the left side to form a fifty man deep phalanx. Macedons regions and towns Macedon or Macedonia (from Greek ; see also List of traditional Greek place names) was the name of an ancient kingdom in the northern-most part of ancient Greece, bordering the kingdom of Epirus on the west and the region of Thrace to the east[1... The sarissa (or sarisa) was a 3 to 7 meter (13-21 feet) long double pointed pike used in the Macedonian phalanx. ... Philip II of Macedon: victory medal (niketerion) struck in Tarsus, 2nd c. ... French Republican Guard - May 8, 2005 celebrations Cavalry (from French cavalerie) were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback in combat. ... Alexander the Great (Greek: ,[1] Megas Alexandros; July 356 BC–June 11, 323 BC), also known as Alexander III, king of Macedon (336–323 BC), was one of the most successful military commanders in history. ... In general Diadochi (in Greek Διάδοχοι, transcripted Diadochoi) means successors, such that the neoplatonic refounders of Platos Academy in Late Antiquity referred to themselves as diadochi (of Plato). ... The Roman Legion (from Latin , from lego, legere, legi, lectus — to collect) is a term that can apply both as a transliteration of legio (conscription or army) to the entire Roman army and also, more narrowly (and more commonly), to the heavy infantry that was the basic military unit of...


Around the time of the Persian Wars, the Greeks (and especially the Athenians) had the idea of arming ships and fighting at sea. The basic Greek fighting ship was the trireme with three rows of oars on each side to increase speed and maneuverability. The Athenian strategy of naval engagement proved successful at the Battle of Salamis, where a smaller Athenian fleet based on the principle of ramming, burning, and capturing enemy ships soundly defeated the Persian fleet. After the by and large defeat of the Persians in the Aegean, the Athenians used their navy as defense against pirates and other dangers in an effort to promote trade within the Delian League. The naval side of war proved decisive in the Peloponnesian War when Athens' strategy again turned to naval superiority and the Athenians attempted to just sit inside their walls and use their fleet to block the harbors of Sparta's allies, limiting trade. After an ill-advised military venture in Sicily, however, Athens lost a large portion of its fleet and many of its finest soldiers. The Spartans took advantage of this crushing blow, and rapidly created their own navy with support from Persia. With an unquestionably dominate army and a passable navy, Sparta inspired many Athenian colonies to revolt, depriving Athens of the funds necessary to build more ships. It wasn't long before Sparta captured Athens, tore down the famed city walls and ransacked the city. The Greco-Persian Wars or Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Greek world and the Persian Empire that started about 500 BC and lasted until 448 BC. The term can also refer to the continual warfare of the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire against the Parthians and... A Greek trireme. ... Combatants Greek city-states Persia, Halicarnassus Commanders Eurybiades of Sparta Themistocles of Athens Adeimantus of Corinth Aristides of Athens Xerxes I of Persia, Ariamenes †, Artemisia Strength 366-380 ships a 1,000-1,207 ships [1]b Casualties 40 ships 500 ships a Herodotus gives 378 of the alliance, but... Look up Aegean Sea in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Delian League (Athenian Empire), right before the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC. Corcyra was not part of the League The Delian League was an association of Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. It was led by Athens. ... For the earlier war beginning in 460 BC, see First Peloponnesian War. ...

Contents

Archaic Greek warfare

The hoplite phalanx

The hoplite was a very heavy infantryman that was the main soldier of warfare in Ancient Greece. The word hoplite (Greek ὁπλίτης, hoplitēs) derives from hoplon (ὅπλον, plural hopla, ὅπλα) meaning an item of armor or equipment and consequently the entire equipment of the hoplite (but not specifically the circular shield, which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a hoplon, though it was in fact called an aspis). These soldiers probably first appeared in the late seventh century B.C. They were a citizen-militia, and so were armed as spearmen, and assumed a phalanx formation, which are relatively easy to equip and maintain; they were primarily drawn from the middle class, who could afford the cost of the armaments. Almost all the famous men of ancient Greece, even philosophers and playwrights, fought as hoplites at some point in their lives. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


The (hoplite) phalanx was a formation in which the hoplites would line up in ranks, usually no less than four deep, in very close order. In this formation, the hoplites would lock their shields together, and the first few ranks of soldiers would project their spears out over the first rank of shields, to try to gain the upper hand in the battle early on and as a result, allowing for the first three or so ranks of spearmen to engage their spears against the enemy. Therefore, one might say that the phalanx was essentially a formation in which the hoplites created a mass spear and shield wall. The effectiveness of the phalanx depended upon how well the hoplites could maintain this formation while in combat, and how well they could stand their ground, especially when engaged against another phalanx. It could be said that the main enemy of a phalanx was not the opposition forces (the majority of the soldiers would remain unengaged in a phalanx versus phalanx pushing match, because they were positioned at the rear and were responsible for keeping the front rows pressed forward) but fear. One theory was that the more disciplined and courageous the army the more likely it was to win - often disputes between the various city-states of Greece would be resolved by one side fleeing before the engagement. The Greek word dynamis, the "will to fight", expresses the drive that kept hoplites in formation.


Before the advance, both sides would sing the 'paean', the battle-hymn (notably, the Spartans rejected the use of a battle-hymn, thinking it needless bravado), then advance to the cadence (a marching beat) - on trumpets, pipes or drums. When nearing the enemy, the phalanx would break into a run that was sufficient enough to create momentum but not too much as to lose cohesion. Both sides would collide viciously, breaking many of the spears of the front row. The battle would then rely on the valor of the men in the front line and the rear men to maintain a push forward with their shields.


“Now of those, who dare, abiding one beside another, to advance to the close fray, and the foremost champions, fewer die, and they save the people in the rear; but in men that fear, all excellence is lost. No one could ever in words go through those several ills, which befall a man, if he has been actuated by cowardice. For ‘tis grievous to wound in the rear the back of a flying man in hostile war. Shameful too is a corpse lying low in the dust, wounded behind in the back by the point of a spear.” [Tyrtaeus: The War Songs Of Tyrtaeus]


The natural tendency during battle would be to drift towards the right side, or even for both lines to "wheel" as one side gave ground and the other advanced. This is because the individual hoplites carried their shields on their left arm, protecting not themselves but the soldier to the left (thus giving an incentive to stand very close together). Battles were won when the exposed right side (carrying spears) could overpower the opposing army's left side (carrying shields).


When in combat, the whole formation would consistently press forward trying to break the enemy formation; thus when two phalanx formations engaged, the struggle essentially became a pushing match, in which, as a rule, the deeper phalanx would almost always win, with very few recorded exceptions


Since the hoplites were a militia force and did not receive permanent wages, campaigns were short and mainly confined to the summer. Armies marched directly to their target. There, the defenders could hide behind city walls, in which case the attackers generally had to content themselves with ravaging the countryside (as siegecraft was undeveloped), or meet them on the field. Battles were usually set piece and intended to be decisive. These battles were short, bloody, and brutal, and thus required a high degree of discipline. Both forces lined up on a level field, usually in a rough phalanx formation around eight ranks deep (though this varied). Other troops were less important; hippeis (cavalry) generally protected the flanks, when present at all, and both light infantry and missile troops were negligible. The best known hoplites were the Spartans, who were trained from birth to become well trained, professional warriors.


This was warfare involvling the navy of Greece.


Tactical development of the 4th century BC

The emergence of the light infantry

Light infantry began to appear with the rise of professional armies. They were used to hold enemies in place as cavalry or foot troops attempted to flank the enemies.


The oblique phalanx

The rising importance of the cavalry

The Phalanx seemed invincible in Greece, thanks in no small part to the formidable Spartan Army. It had been used as a battering ram and had won campaigns against Persia and the northern "barbarians". The Thebans, however, defeated Sparta with a powerful force of cavalry and claimed supremacy throughout Greece. The Cavalry tactics had probably been learned from the Persians, who took all manner of horseman to a battlefield, and won most of the time. When the Macedonians invaded, their army was mainly composed of Phalanx but the elite troops were the Companions, a powerful cavalry unit that had been adapted into a royal guard. Classical phalanxes were gone, as the Macedonians proved to be one of the most effective conquerers in Europe for over 1000 years. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For other uses of this term see: Persia (disambiguation) The Persian Empire is the name used to refer to a number of historic dynasties that have ruled the country of Persia (Iran). ... Look up phalanx in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Phalanx (Greek word from phalangos, meaning Finger) can refer to: phalanx formation in ancient warfare. ... The Heroes of the Lance are a group of fictional Heroes who appear in the Dragonlance series of novels. ...


The ascendence of Macedonian warfare

The warring city-states

The great greeks fought a massive army called the nathans of II. and the deal was that if the greeks lost that the nathans of II would take there women and keep the as slaves and have sex with them! the greeks signed a peace treaty which read- ΒΌήΏΔ ÞʑΎΣΒΉņδ


See also

Look up phalanx in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Phalanx (Greek word from phalangos, meaning Finger) can refer to: phalanx formation in ancient warfare. ... Hoplites depicted on an Attic vase dated to 510-500 BC The Hoplite was a heavy infantryman that was the central focus of warfare in Ancient Greece. ... A peltast was a type of light infantry in Ancient Greece who often served as skirmishers. ... Roman mosaic of the Battle of Issus The army of ancient Macedon is considered to be among the greatest military forces of the ancient world. ... The Hellenistic armies is the term applied to the armies of the successor kingdoms which emerged after the death of the Alexander the Great. ...

Bibliography

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Ancient warfare is war as conducted from the beginnings of recorded history to the end of the ancient period.
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